Reflecting on Assignment 2 as a Process: Thanks, Fantastic Group F! :)

I believe that the explicit objectives of Assignment 2 were achieved, as we were able to identify theories in practice in the schools that we interviewed. The objectives of the course were also met, as we had to truly understand the concepts in order to construct questions that would help us identify them based on the interviews we conducted. The questions we chose also reflected the preferences and priorities of the group. After analyzing the interviews, we gave recommendations that would help implementation of the practical applications.

I think every activity has implicit goals, and this assignment was no exception. First of all, it would be working with a group in a distance learning format. The rubrics for peer assessment clearly identified how to be a good groupmate. This is my second experience of working with a group restricted to discussion forums for communication. I believe I did better this time around, as I already knew what to expect. For me, it became just like any other groupwork, except we can’t speak in Filipino, we can’t text our groupmates to remind them of things and have to just wait for their replies/outputs, and conversations are limited to strictly business. Other implicit goals could be learning to deal with the logistics of interviews, how to conduct them, and learning how to prioritize questions,

In this assignment, I developed tacit knowledge and skills in terms of group dynamics. I made sure I was always pleasant and diplomatic even when I was trying to push some of the members to contribute a little bit more. Before, I would just do the needed work myself to make things move faster, but I wanted everyone to have chances to do something. This is why I always divided up the tasks and asked groupmates to step up. I’ve had past experiences in groupwork wherein there was nothing for me to do because one or two groupmates already did everything. I appreciated their initiative, but I felt like I wasn’t really part of the group, and I didn’t learn as much as I could have. So in this groupwork, I tried to leave something for those who were not able to log on as frequently as the others. I think it worked okay since everyone was able to claim at least one task for themselves for all of our outputs.

As a group, I wondered about how to encourage our groupmates who were not as active as the others. I wonder if they felt like they were contributing enough already, or if they had pressing problems that they didn’t want to talk about. Some of my groupmates got sick too. But, always, there was someone who stepped up. I would like to especially commend Marissa, Angelica and Patricia for taking on more tasks than they signed up for and doing the tasks so well. I was also impressed by the group because they wanted to do a set of interviews per group member. I thought it would be overwhelming to have 8 sets, but I took up the challenge, and now we have a really good set of data, a mix of private public and homeschoolers. It’s great! We were really able to see the theories in action.

I think we all also learned a lot from each other. We all learned skills like using the forum and Google Docs. We also learned how to encourage each other. I like how our group was always so positive. We also had different strengths that worked well together.  I also learned how to deal with groupmates and encourage them based on how others encouraged others.

We could have done better by sticking to our deadlines more so we wouldn’t have to cram in the end. We also could have finalized our assigned tasks earlier so we wouldn’t have to wait for groupmates to step up. I think some members could have contributed more as well, given the amount of work others had to do to finish the paper.

In terms of our actual output, I honestly believe it is of good quality, and I’m proud of our group and our work. I’m also happy I have a table of recommendations to refer to in the future. Perhaps we could have discussed the interview guides a bit more to make the questions more coherent between teacher and learner, and more representative of the modules. But I think the chosen questions (and in the order they were asked) were able to get the necessary information for us to determine the applied theories.

Overall, I am very happy with our group and with our outputs. smile Marissa, Patricia, Angelica, Mary Ann, Olive, Sarah, and Lorraine, thank you very much. smile heart

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Module 3.2: Models and Mentors in My Life

  • List the most important role models and mentors in your life. Then describe what their positive modeling and mentoring have meant to your development.

The models and mentors that have most influenced me (and continue to do so) are my parents, my thesis advisers, and my spiritual director. My father taught me discipline, hard work, perseverance, generosity, the importance of health, and the importance of prayer. My mother models positive thinking, trust in the Lord, selfless acts of service, kindness, open-mindedness and an independent mind. My thesis advisers showed me how to have a good mix of heart and mind, work/life balance, how to communicate effectively, and to trust in the goodness and capabilities of the people I encounter in life. My spiritual director is a very good mentor because he is calm and collected, gives great advice, insightful, and is very knowledgeable about the faith.

  • Describe which characteristics and behaviors you believe are the most important for you to model for your students.

I would like to model grit/perseverance, discipline, responsibility, cheerfulness, honesty, and a love for learning. These are the characteristics that I believe would build the character of a student and set him/her up for success in life.

  • Describe a systematic plan for bringing models and mentors into your students’ lives in one or more domain(s) you plan to teach, such as math, English, science, music, and so on.

I can bringing models and mentors into my students’ lives by having a series of activities designed for that purpose. First, when I teach a lesson (in science), I can talk about the scientist who discovered certain principles and highlight the character strengths that I would like the student to emulate. Then, we can watch a film about the life of a scientist (any scientist) so the students can observe behaviors in action. Later on in the semester, I can ask the students to interview the scientists in our college to help them learn from the behaviors of Filipino scientists. Based on the submitted interviews, I will choose one that I would like the students to emulate the most and invite the scientist to give an inspirational talk with a discussion after. Near the end of the semester, I can also ask the students to make independent research projects. They will need to find mentors for their projects, and doing research with their mentors will teach them invaluable lessons about being a good scientist.

  • Do you have someone in mind who might serve as an education mentor when you become a teacher? If so, describe the person.
  • What would your ideal education mentor be like?

The reason I talked about a science class in the college setting was because I taught biology at the university level since I graduated until just a few months ago. It is the setting I am most familiar with. However, I have made a career change and now work at a preschool. I have been observing classes and helping out, but I have not led a class yet. I am very new to this, and I do not know many preschool teachers yet. As such, I have not yet found an education mentor.

I do realize the importance of a mentor though, and would like to have one with the following characteristics. My ideal education mentor would have had years of experience in teaching and mentoring, and still in practice. She would be  approachable, available, open-minded, cheerful, kind, knowledgeable,  and creative. She would have a passion for teaching, would love teaching, and would be a lifelong learner.

Would you happen to know anyone? 🙂

Note: This blog post is a based on a survey found at http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/education/edpsych/santrocked02/ch07a_sa.html.

Module 3.4: How I Approach Learning

  • How do I approach learning? How do I expect from more knowledgeable others to help me learn?
    • Do I tend to be a passive learner? Do I want a more knowledgeable other (e.g., my teachers) to spoonfeed me or to transfer their knowledge to me?
    • Or do I prefer to construct knowledge? Do I ask myself questions and challenge my own understandings?  Am I stimulated by disequilibrium or do I ignore it?

How I approach learning depends on what I am learning and my motivations for doing so. If I need information quickly and temporarily, I would prefer to be spoonfed. For example, if I am taking pictures during an event and the subject of my photo requests certain effects, I would rather be told directly which buttons to press instead of figuring it out on my own.

However, in general, I prefer to construct knowledge. When I was younger, I would get into trouble in school because I would question and challenge my teachers when I felt their lectures were inadequate. I want to understand the how and why of things and not just know the what, when, where and who. I don’t like merely memorizing, and I like looking at the relationships between concepts and ideas. I tend to look at the big picture and come up with exceptions to rules so I can understand the rules better.

I also challenge and question myself. I often sit down and reflect on how I am living my life, and how I can be a better person. When I find new ways of doing things, I think about their validity and if they are applicable to my situation. Though I have an open mind, I am careful about believing ideas that do not make immediate sense to me. I am stimulated by this disequilibrium though, and turn things over in my head until I find a solution. Sometimes I come up with a solution that later turns out to be incorrect. Sometimes I do not find a solution. But I think that is okay. One can never fully know everything. Construction will always be a work in progress. I will just need to keep adjusting my mental constructs to accommodate the knowledge I gain throughout my life.

Module 3.3: Long-Term Memory

  • Who was your first teacher?  What was your first classroom like? What is you remotest childhood memory?  How long did it take you to retrieve those information?  What does that reveal about the nature of long-term memory?

My first teacher was Ms. Santos. She ran a preschool a stone’s throw away from our house. I still remember my first classroom. We had desks arranged in rows, with six desks per row (in groups of two). The desks had green tops, and the chairs were brown. There was a blackboard in front and on the left side. I’m not sure if there was a blackboard on the right side. There may have been windows instead. The door was in the back, on the right. The teacher’s table was front and center. It was brown. All of the furniture was wooden. These are my memories of my first classroom. I am not actually sure about all the details, except the locations of the blackboard, the teacher’s table and the door. We learned that memories, when recalled, are encoded by different neurons, and so the information might change slightly. Back at home, I have an album with pictures of the classroom, and I look forward to seeing the photos to see if I remembered correctly. I think my memory may have been reinforced from looking at the photos. Remembering the photo also facilitated my quick retrieval of the memory. I have vague memories of actually being in the classroom though.

My remotest childhood memory was when I was two years old and I was in a basement with my cousin. I retrieved this fairly quickly because I had been asked the same question as an adult. When I was first asked this question, I had no idea what I could answer. After thinking about it, I remembered the basement. Honestly though, I’m not sure if I remember actually being there, or if I recreated the memory since I’ve heard stories about my being there. The memory is vivid though, so I give it the benefit of the doubt.

In recalling these events, I understood the nature of memory more. In the module, we learned that long-term memory is stored and called to working memory when needed. The memory might also be different from the actual event, as I mentioned earlier. Important events and events wherein one was focused are easier to retrieve. I think that could be the reason why I was able to describe my first classroom better than my most remote memory. I spent two years in that classroom (thus I was very aware of the classroom), and going to school for the first time was significant for me.

Module 3.2: Distance Learners Need Discipline

  • An important behavior.  In a distance learning environment, such as this course, what one particular behavior do you think is most important for learners to acquire? 
  • As a participant in this class, use social learning theories as basis to make recommendations on how students in distance learning can help other acquire this behavior.

I think the most important behavior that distance learners should acquire is to be disciplined. Since we don’t physically go to class, we have to carve out study time from our already hectic schedules. It is so easy to postpone study time because of more urgent (but not necessarily more important) tasks. It is also easy to postpone study time for non-urgent and non-important tasks, unfortunately. That’s why a distance learner must learn how to be disciplined about making, following and adjusting schedules.

I think Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy is very helpful for acquiring this behavior. When you see your classmates posting in the forums and writing e-journals on time, it makes you think that you can do it too. It becomes inspiring especially when your classmates post about having two jobs and taking care of young children while doing distance education. Since the atmosphere of the discussion fora are always positive, I think we could also ask our disciplined classmates how they do it and learn from them. And if we are the disciplined students, it would be good to share our secrets in the fora and e-journal posts so as to inspire others. We can learn from each other when we model the good behavior of being disciplined (observational learning/modeling).

Learning from each other is especially applicable in doing groupwork. Being part of a group puts pressure to perform well for the sake of your groupmates. I am much more disciplined in dealing with groupwork than with solo tasks. I set early deadlines and make sure I do my tasks on time because my performance affects the final output of everyone in the group. Having that responsibility, and knowing that my groupmates can observe my behavior, encourages me to stay on task. The constant encouragement of classmates and the synergy of working together also motivate me to do the tasks on time.

Module 3.1: Motivation and Behavior

  • Recall your past experiences where behaviorist approaches have been used to modify your behaviors.
    • Which experiences do you consider positive (helpful and pleasant)?
    • In the attempt to modify your behavior, can you cite behaviorist approaches that successfully modified your behavior/s but turned out to be unpleasant experiences?
    • Were there occasions wherein your behavior/s became more undesirable rather than improved?

A positive experience that helped me to modify my behavior was when my mother would praise me for getting high scores on exams (positive reinforcement). I never cared much for scores and felt like exams didn’t truly measure whether I learned something or not. This is because I am a big-picture thinker and I felt it was unnecessary and tedious to memorize entire sentences and paragraphs so I can get correct marks for fill-in-the-blank questions. However, because of my mother’s praise and encouragement, I wanted her to be happy and studied harder for exams so I can get high scores. It made me happy to make her happy.

My mother told me that when I was a young child, I had a habit of screaming. She hated this habit because it hurt her ears and it was a nuisance to the neighbors. She said she would slap my mouth every time I screamed, and I eventually stopped screaming. Of course, it hurt, but the pain went away within a minute. It hurt my pride much more than my mouth. This was, of course, a positive punishment, where I received something I didn’t like. The unpleasant experience successfully modified my behavior.

I remember a time when I had the chore of cleaning my room once a week. I didn’t like doing it, and it took me a long time to begin. What made me take longer, however, was nagging (using techniques ranging from positive reinforcement to negative punishment). I felt that if I said I will clean my room within the day, people should trust me to do it. I do not need to be nagged. If I am nagged too much, then I will not do it because I will be too irritated. I think this is related to the reinforcement schedule. Continuous reinforcement (either positive or negative), if too much, can discourage a person from modifying his/her behavior.

Reflecting on these past experiences helps me to realize that we are all familiar with the theories on behavior due to our own experiences. We all have behaviors that we wish to modify in ourselves and in the people we are responsible for, and it helps to know the theoretical basis of what we do in order to improve ourselves more effectively.

 

Module 2: Intelligence and Learning Styles in Teaching and Learning

  • On account of what you have learned from this module, in what specific ways will you modify how you learn and how you (will) teach?

I have learned about intelligence and learning styles in this module. I realized just how elusive a definition of intelligence is. I may have come up with my own opinion, but that is based on my own personal concept (albeit informed) of what it means to be an intelligent person. I recognize that each of my students also have their own ideas of intelligence, and that they may believe that they are (or not) intelligent based on their personal ideas. Thus, it would be my job to help them discover their respective intelligences. In the preschool where I work, Gardner’s multiple intelligences are posted on a large tarpaulin by the entrance. The images accompanying each intelligence type are photos of the students demonstrating these intelligence types. I was impressed when I saw it on my first day of work, and I believe it helps the students understand that everyone is unique and has something to offer. The challenge then is for me to be able to encourage each child in his/her own learning style. There has to be a wide range of activities for students representative of the learning styles. This is especially important at the preschool level, as the students still have a long way to go in developing their cognitive abilities.

When I took the learning style surveys, I scored highest on solitary learning, followed by physical and visual. In the VARK (visual/aural/read write/kinesthetic) survey, I was a strong K (kinesthetic). The surveys tell me that I learn best when I’m alone, preferably with movement or seeing actual structures (or representations of these structures). I am a “touch and see” kind of person. I think this makes sense because I am a scientist. I work with empirical evidence. For my work, reason is not enough, because there are too many unknown variables that can affect results. There has to be evidence. Scientists also need time alone to sit, think and write. This is my training, and I guess it showed in my learning style. Now that I know my learning styles, I will use them to learn better. I will look for peace and quiet when doing the modules so I can concentrate. I will also make sure my physical surroundings are orderly so I will not be distracted by clutter. I will use diagrams and/or do something physical (e.g. take a walk, build something with lego) when I have difficulty understanding a concept.

To find out your own learning style, take the surveys here:

http://www.learning-styles-online.com/

http://vark-learn.com/